Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Something That's Really Starting to Piss Me Off (Rant)

So I'm starting to look through artistic organizations, as per the assignment of my Professional Practices class. I decided that I wanted to look up  stuff for my iconography-related work, since that's my primary medium. The list is... uninspiring. I found one such organization, and their website's down (but their Facebook isn't!). I returned, a bit concerned, and was told to broaden my search to Catholic art in general. That's slightly less discouraging, but only just: none of these people are backed by a diocese, near as I can tell. It's all independent work.

What in the cold hell is the purpose of that, may I ask?

The whole purpose of being a Catholic artist is that you may do Sacred Art (yes, I capitalized it, I consider it a part of Tradition, but that's another topic) for the edification of what? CHURCHES. Y'know, those ugly buildings most Roman Catholics enter to do a watered-down version of the Novus Ordo (PLEASE someone link me to a Novus Ordo with the full chant as it's supposed to be)? Yeah, surprise, those are supposed to be beautiful! But I guess it's hard to do that when people, even at a Catholic university, seem to forget that the whole point of art is to lift the mind and senses up to God! Allow me a rant for another paragraph, and I promise you something more akin to coherency.

It is my experience (all 23 years of it!) that the Church has lost something very very important: an appreciation of the physical world. You have people saying the sexual urge is holy and then condemning it in the next breath, idiots who pretend that Sacred Art pays for itself, and the ugliest shit produced by anyone and everyone in this day and age, and you wonder why we have such problems? I get a better sense of what's sacred from the Boondock Saints then walking into most churches, people! Why?

I am willing to bet money (without looking it up even!) that Mr. Duffy isn't Catholic, and yet with this opening scene I got a better sense of what a Catholic Church was about then 95% of Catholic Churches I walk into. This movie that most devout, conservative, Catholics will never watch because of its language and violence has a better witness to what they're about than most of them will ever be able to conceive of, because it actually shows beauty! Oh the wicked irony!

Sacred Art isn't cheap, Nathan, is what you'll tell me. Artists are expensive to keep around, and we can't afford it. To those wonderfully smart people I say, "No shit. Really? I've been doing Byzantine iconography for 7 years! I think I know how expensive sacred art can get!" But to the eternal shame of those who point this out I will point out that most of the beautiful churches we have in this world were built by hand. You heard me, by hand. The community put their money where there mouth was, and built their sacred space! They then hired an artist with their hard-earned cash, in economic situations that make ours look wondrously awesome, and put all their hopes and dreams into one building where they went pretty damn often. And what's the result, may I dare ask?

You really want me to go on? Really? Cause if I do I really might actually get angry, I really might. This world has been abandoned by our wondrous Catholics, and I sincerely hope we stop ignoring the people who live in it and the unarguable fact that art does more good for people than any polemical work on chastity ever will. Does it work the same way? No, but it does work better. To  those of you who wish to argue with me go take a long, hard, look at human nature. Then come back to me. You'll get a truly rational post from me at some point, but for the moment be left with this.

We will fail to convince people we are following the true Way until our art convinces them. We will fail so epically that most of us will wonder why we're so ineffective. And the answer will be so simple that it'll sting when we die and see why all these people that we want peace for so badly had so much difficulty: we forgot that humans respond to beauty, not arguments.

I should stop ranting now. Before I say something truly asinine.